With Earnie Stewart taking over the United States Men’s National Team general manager role, it is he who will have a great deal of say in who becomes Bruce Arena’s successor as head coach. After failing to qualify for the World Cup, Arena stepped down, and since then, the whole national team set up has begun implementing some serious changes.
We have seen several new players make debuts, and many of these young men should be in the running for spots on USMNT rosters for years to come. Dave Sarachan has taken interim charge, and has done a decent enough job so far, instilling a new found confidence in these young players, and the team as whole, however, it is unlikely he will become the full-time coach due to his inexperience.
Mexico have recently parted ways with their coach Juan Carlos Osorio. Nicknamed “The Tinkerer”, Osorio is notorious for making alterations to his squad, and demanding a high level of dedication to his team. Armed with his pen and paper at all times, he often makes small changes, to the system that his team plays, throughout the game, but as much as this can often be a positive thing to do, sometimes it’s best to persevere a little longer in matches than Osorio does.
This frequent changing of the team and tactics led him to be somewhat disliked by the Mexican fans, however, nobody can deny that he did a fantastic job there, leading El Tri to the top of CONCACAF qualifying, beating Germany in the group stage of the World Cup, and reaching the knockout stage of that competition, too. Osorio is a smart man, and would be a great choice for the next USMNT coach for a number of reasons.
Firstly, Osorio knows CONCACAF very well. He was in charge of Mexico for almost three years, and has managed teams in both the Mexican division and MLS. He knows how to play against this kind of opposition day in and day out, and this is a much-needed trait. Too often in recent time have we seen the US team try to play in a more European style, and simply get outrun and outmuscled in games against teams such as Mexico, Costa Rica, and, notoriously, Trinidad and Tobago.
He also knows how to compete with the European elite, with the match against Germany a few weeks ago just one example of this. Osorio’s vast range of tactics would bring stability to the helm of the USMNT, and allow players to try out new things to find a strategy that works best for the long term.
Experience and youth
Osorio is not afraid to give youth, as well as players from lower divisions, a chance in his team. Osorio introduced Hirving Lozano to the Mexican national team, and we all know how well that decision worked out, with the winger one of the stars of the World Cup.
He also selected several players from Liga MX to intermix with those who played in Europe. This again allowed him to have several options during every match, as to the type of team and style of play to use, and this is largely why Mexico have been so successful in recent time. The US, like Mexico, have numerous players who play their club game in Europe, and also have some real talent at home in MLS. Osorio and his backroom staff would surely use their knowledge from the past few years to produce a USA roster, with players from both sides of the Atlantic, that will compete, and work hard, in every match they play. This team would also have a mixture of experience and youth, just like Osorio’s Mexico team, again allowing players to develop and grow from each other, rather than just from the influence of the coach.
One thing that I have highlighted in the past regarding Osorio is that one reason why he became so unpopular with the Mexican press and fan base was that he often lost games that he should have won. The match against Sweden at the World Cup is a perfect example of this. Coming in off the back of two wins, Mexico got pummeled 3-0 by the Swedes and almost missed out on the knockout stage altogether. This drove players, pundits, and fans crazy, and Mexico never bounced back, being eliminated in the next round.
In my opinion, Osorio never had the true respect of many of his players. There is definitely an attitude that bubbles in many players from Central and South America which involves playing for one’s self as opposed to the team. In Russia, we saw this from Brazil’s Neymar, Costa Rica’s Joel Campbell, and to a certain extent, Mexico’s Carlos Vela and Hector Herrera. Despite star forward Javier Hernandez coming out and saying that Osorio is one of the best coaches he has played under, there are several players who will definitely be glad to see the back of him. His potential experience as USMNT coach could be very different, with many of this new generation of US players hungry for success, and open-minded and willing to listen to advice and criticism to try and improve their game. “The Tinkerer” could be well liked in America.
For me, Osorio is one of several coaches who would likely do a decent job at the helm of the USMNT. Another man I would like to see interviewed would be Carlos Queiroz, who took charge of Iran at the World Cup last month. Queiroz has decades of experience coaching at the international level, managing teams such as Portugal and South Africa in the past, and would bring, like Osorio, some much-needed new ideas and confidence to the US team. Additionally, Queiroz was Sir Alex Ferguson’s understudy at Manchester United, and he, therefore, has earned the experience of how to wear teams down to win games. This is another trait that could be useful as head coach of the USMNT.
Whoever is appointed, I would say that it would be best for the US for the coach not to be American, or MLS based. There are some fantastic up and coming coaches domestically, but none have the necessary grit and attitude to make a real change in the frankly horrible team. We need a spark. We need someone who is not afraid to get their hands dirty, ruffle a few feathers, and buck the system.
And that man is most definitely not Bob Bradley, who has been linked to the job over the last few weeks. A Bradley re-appointment would only spell disaster, and send the US spiralling back the wrong way, undoing everything they have done over the last year. Again, this is another example as to why the next coach should come from either South America or Europe. They will recognize the USMNT’s past faults and avoid falling into the same traps.
I am confident that Stewart and his team will not make an asinine choice like Bradley. Only time will tell, though. However, one thing is for certain: The fans, pundits, and ex-players are still in opposition to the current team at the top of the federation. Get the managerial decision wrong and the situation will only get more toxic, and this will trickle down to the players, resulting in poor performances.
Earnie Stewart, the floor is yours.
You can read more from Nick Lanier by visiting his blog, here.